Ole Miss has marched along to the SEC Semifinals. After losing their first game of the double elimination round, Ole Miss blanked Georgia. This set the Rebels up with a rematch against the Commodores on Friday which they did not waste.
Drew McDaniel was sensational in his start against Georgia. In 6.2 innings of work he struck out 11 and allowed 4 hits. Brandon Johnson continued to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard through the 8th inning before Taylor Broadway came in and did his job in the 9th. McDaniel improves to 5-1 on the season after his career day, but Broadway isn’t credited the save because of the 4 run lead.
A Kevin Graham solo shot got the scoring started in the 2nd inning for Ole Miss. It was his only hit of the afternoon. Jacob Gonzalez came up big for Ole Miss with an RBI single in the 3rd, a single that resulted in an errant throw to score a run in the 5th, and then later in the 5th, scoring on a Peyton Chatagnier single.
The middle of the lineup was all over the bases. Starting in the 3rd inning, Georgia decided they were too afraid of Tim Elko to let him see any pitches. He went 0-1 with 3 walks, 2 of which were intentional. Although the Rebs left the bases loaded in the 3rd inning, they managed enough runs to back up some stellar pitching.
A quarter final match-up awaited the Rebs on Friday. It was a rematch with the team that banished them to the losers’ bracket with a walkoff single on Wednesday. Tyler Myers was given the chance to start, and he did not disappoint.
On the day he received his acceptance letter to pursue his Master’s Degree at Ole Miss, Myers was fired up and put together a career day. He threw 7 shutout innings and was trotted back out for the 8th. He ran into some trouble in the 8th inning, however, and Johnson was asked to take over. After allowing one of the runners left by Myers to score, Johnson settled down and picked up his first save. He managed to record 6 outs while facing just 7 batters and helped send Ole Miss to the weekend.
The Ole Miss offense did not need to do much to win this game because of the stellar pitching. The little that they did need to produce, was not expected to come easily. Freshman Superstar, Jack Leiter, got the start for the Dores, but to the Rebels’ delight, he struggled early.
Chatagnier was credited with an RBI walk in the 2nd inning before Leiter could even record an out. Shortly after, a sacrifice fly was lifted just deep enough for Tim Elko to tag up and hobble home. Unfortunately, the Rebels couldn’t do any more damage in the frame. It is not often that Jack Leiter gives you bases loaded nobody out, but at least the Rebs picked up 2 runs.
Later in the game, Leiter hit Leatherwood with a pitch. The 7th inning HBP was late enough to allow Cade Sammons to pinch run in an attempt to pick up some insurance. The plan worked perfectly when TJ McCants finally got himself on the board and tacked on the Rebs’ third run of the game with a single. After Maldonado took over for the Vanderbilt starter, Kevin Graham decided to make a video he can show off to the grandkids someday. He demolished a homer over the rightfield wall that traveled a very long way in a little bit of time.
Now on to the semifinals. Ole Miss will have to contend with the #1 team in the nation, Arkansas. I bet nobody would bet on Cody Adcock to have a lights out day against the Hogs, but nobody would have bet on Myers being as solid as he was against Vandy yesterday either. If Adcock has a good day, the bullpen is as fresh as they possibly can be after 4 days of action. Anything is possible today; the Rebels have found Hoover Magic. A win would put them in the Championship Game for the third straight tournament. Historically, LSU has been the undeniable force in the conference tournament, but it might be time for them to give up that crown.
If Ole Miss loses, they will wait to see which national seed they are granted on Monday. A win would give them a date with Tennessee tomorrow.